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Hebrews 2

February 19th, 2012 by Vic

February 19, 2012

Hebrews 2

“That Great Salvation”


Hebrews 2:1‑4 — First Warning

Have you noticed that the attitudes and reactions of our grand kids are often a reflection of us?  When they get a new toy, a new game, or a new set of Legos, they do not look for the instructions in the box first.  They know how it works.  They saw the ad on TV.  After a period of trial and error they learn that some things must be assembled in sequence or it is dysfunctional.  How often do we try to handle new situations without checking the directions?


Last week we read that God has been giving directions to mankind from the beginning of Creation. Now we are warned to pay attention to what God is still saying.  Don’t just go with the flow.  Focus on your ultimate goals.  Check the owner’s manual.


The word for ‘drift’ is used of a ring carelessly slipping off a finger, or food that went down the wrong pipe, or a thought that slipped away.  It is also used of a ship allowed to drift past the harbor because the pilot is asleep or forgot to set the anchor.


Don’t drift past the safe harbor of your ultimate goals.  Don’t quit working for the prize.   Don’t get apathetic and drift to destruction.  Keep a firm grip on the Truth.


God knows our tendency to drift.  It saves on fuel when you drift.  It saves on wear and tear.  It does not require discipline or extra effort.

The temptation of Christians from the beginning was to forget or disregard the seriousness of their commitment to Christ and drift back into their former ways.

The 2 words for sin, violation and disobedience, in verse 2 literally mean “stepping across a line” or “side stepping” (parabasis) and “imperfect hearing” (parakoe).  Careless hearing can involve an unwillingness to listen.

Pay attention to what God has been saying.  The messengers in the OT were prophets.  Now God has sent His Son.  A greater messenger means a greater salvation which also means a greater responsibility.  And the consequences of neglect mean a greater punishment.  How will you escape if you neglect this great salvation?  You won’t.  Those who disobeyed the OT law were punished.  If you disobey the love message of Christ, your reward will be punishment.  Your opportunity and blessing is greater and the tragedy of disobedience is greater.  Jesus was the embodied Word of God who came to help humans (16).


God has spoken.  God validated His Word through “signs and wonders and many colored acts of power and distributions of the Holy Spirit according to His will.”  The NIV incorrectly adds the word “gifts” which is not in the text.  Signs and wonders was a common phrase for the Exodus of God’s people from bondage to the Promised Land.  “Distributions of the Holy Spirit” suggest that God gave the Holy Spirit at different times in different ways.


This great salvation is for men, not angels (16).  Angels do not die and do not have the fear of death.  Angels are servants of God.  God did not create the world for angels.


In the beginning God gave Adam total dominion over creation.  When Adam sinned he symbolically gave a copy of the title deed of the world to Satan, but Satan does not have a recorded interest.  He just acts on a false claim.  Now it was impossible for man to deny Satan’s claim.  He has no rights.  Mankind is a slave of sin and death.  Jesus came that man might be restored to Holy Communion with God.  When Jesus ascended, He presented the original copy of the title deed and reclaimed Creation (Rev 4).


The great salvation Jesus offers includes forgiveness for the acts of sin that we commit and restoration of man’s authority.  This releases us from the bondage of sin, makes us citizens of the Kingdom and part of the family of God following the cloud by day and the fire by night on our pilgrimage to the new heaven and earth.


2:5‑9  — Mankind’s Recovery

There are 3 basic ideas expressed in this paragraph.  1) God created man to have dominion over the world.  2) Man is not what he was meant to be.  3) Jesus provides restoration and reconciliation in the heart and life of mankind.


Verse 5 says that angels have been involved in the administration of this world but man’s authority will extend into the habitable world which is to come.  Jesus has inaugurated a new reign.  As the writer affirmed in 1:5-13, Jesus is greater than the angels even though He took on the form of man.


Verse 6 reminds us how unworthy man is.  God does not offer us salvation because we deserve it. But in Christ Jesus we are restored to the image of God which we had at the beginning.


Verse 7 says that man was made in the image of God just a little less than divine and entrusted with the command to subdue the earth.  Sin and death frustrated man’s efforts to fulfill his purpose. The Septuagint says man is a little lower than the angels.  The Hebrew text says that man is a little lower than God. The word Elohim is the plural word for God.  It is not the normal word for angels, but I think the plural form is the Trinity.  But whichever way you translate it, the point is that man was created very special to God and sin messed up man’s potential.


The fact that man is discussed with angels indicates that he is more closely related to the heavenly beings than the earthly beings.  Man was crowned with glory and honor at his creation.  He was elevated to the highest possible position.


Verse 8 – Man was set over all the works of the Creator’s hands.  God put all things in subjection under mans’ feet.  Man was given rule over everything, but it is not like that now.  He should have dominion, but he is a slave.  He should be strong, but he is weak.  He should be confident, but he has fear.  He should be free, but he is bound.  He should be king, but he is a slave.  Man is not what God intended him to be.  Life is not pretty.  Things have not worked out right.  Spiritually the world seems like an ugly place.


Verse 9 has the good news.  “But we see Jesus.”  Jesus came into our sinful world.  In Him is living hope.  We can be restored and reconciled to God through Jesus.  All that man lost in the Fall can be fully realized in Christ.  “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Rom 5:20b).


Satan rules the law of sin and death.  As long as you have sin in your life, satan has control.  As long as you have sin in your life, you will have a fear of death.  Satan’s power is limited to the law of sin and death.  The only possibility of deliverance from satan and death is found in putting off the old self.  Stop believing satan’s lies and look to Jesus.  God sent Jesus in the likeness of sinful flesh to condemn sin in the flesh by living a holy life and tasting death for everyone to destroy the power of Satan over death and the fear of death.  That is good news.  Celebrate!


2:10‑18  — Champion and High Priest

The writer says it is reasonable to see why God sent Jesus to help us.  God is the one for or because of whom are all things, and through whom are all things.  Those prepositions mean that God rules creation and sustains creation.  God had a plan for humanity at Creation.  So it was fitting for Jesus therefore to fulfill God’s plan and bring this great salvation to mankind.  If God initiated creation through Jesus, He could also initiate this great salvation through Jesus.  It is reasonable.


Verse 10  The words ‘champion’ and ‘perfect’ describe Jesus.  Jesus became our champion of glory because God made Him perfect through suffering.


Champion had a wide range of meaning so is translated several ways.  The Greek word (ἀρχηγός) is a compound word meaning hero, champion, first to lead or to go first.  This word is only used 3 other times in the NT (Acts 3:15; 5:31; Heb 12:2), but was common in Greek society.


It was used to mean leader or chief.  Zeus is the head of the gods.  It can also mean the founder of a city or the father of a family.  It could refer to the founder of a philosophic school.


The word was used for Hercules.  He was a champion that wrestled death for the good of mankind. He was man’s representative, a champion of the people and part of his people.  The legendary exploits of Hercules may have been in the writer’s thoughts.  The OT also has stories of champions who were selected to fight for the whole army.  David and Goliath are the best known.  Jesus assumed our humanity to become our champion.


An ἀρχηγός is also one who blazes the trail on behalf of others so they can follow.  Barclay used the analogy of a shipwreck to illustrate this word.  Suppose a ship was on the rocks, and suppose the only way to rescue was for someone to swim ashore with a line, in order that, once the line was secured, others might follow.  The one who was first to swim ashore would be the hero or champion of the salvation of the others.  Jesus was that hero or pioneer who blazed the trail to God for us to follow.  He swam through suffering and death and tied our life line to the throne of God so we could pull our ship in to safety.


Jesus came to the aid of God’s oppressed children.  “I am the way, the truth, the life.  No one comes to the Father but by Me.”


Perfect is the second interesting word in 2:10.  Jesus was perfected as our champion of glory through sufferings.  He is fully qualified.  The verb form of perfect is used 9 times in Hebrews and only 15 other times in the NT.  The Greek word τελειόω is used of an animal without blemish.  It is used for finishing an assignment.  It is used for maturity; one who has passed the elementary stages of life.


The basic meaning of perfect in the NT describes a person or thing that is fully carrying out the purpose or plan for which it was created or designed.  A person is perfect only when he is living as God intended him to live.  A thing is perfect when it functions according to its design.


The writer to Hebrews is saying that through suffering Jesus was made perfect or fully able to carry out God’s plan to be the pioneer of our great salvation.  It was His suffering that made Him able to blaze the trail to salvation for others.  Now the writer goes on to explain that.


It was not the suffering in and of itself that made Jesus the pioneer of our salvation, but the suffering was proof that Jesus had become man.  Suffering was also proof that Jesus could now sympathize and feel what we feel. Suffering was proof that Jesus was tempted like we are tempted. Jesus was perfected to be the pioneer of our salvation and suffering is the proof.  The value is not in the suffering itself.


2:11  Jesus identified with us and called us brothers.  The Greek word ἀδελφός has the root idea of from one womb.  Thus the Sanctifier and the sanctified, originating in one source, are in some sense ‘all of one piece’.  God is the Father of all.  Christ’s sonship is original and infinite; man’s is derived and finite; but the being of both is of God.


The word sanctification as used here means setting a person apart and devoting him to God to be holy.  Holy means belonging to God only.  The holy person is God‑possessed, cleansed from all sin, and devoted to God.


Verse 10 said that Jesus brings many sons to glory.  Now we see that He does this by sanctifying them.  Jesus is not ashamed to call us brethren, because He has sanctified us and lives in us.  It is not just what Christ did on the Cross that saves us; it is what He does in us by virtue of what He did for us on the Cross.


Despite the fact that Jesus is infinitely above us, despite the immense difference between the eternal Son of God and the sons of God by creation; despite the sinlessness of Jesus and the sinfulness of man, Jesus loves us and sanctifies those who put their trust in Him and He makes them like himself.  We share a common human nature and the same Father.


He calls us brethren because His humanity was as real as ours.  That is explained a little in 2:14.  There is a big truth in 3 words here.


The first word is share (NASB), partakers (KJV), have (NIV) or in the Greek, kekoinwvnhken.  It comes from the word koinonea, which means to share in common with someone.  The reference is to human nature, which is shared in common by all individuals as a permanent inheritance.


The second word is ‘likewise, also, too, or in like manner’.  The Greek word  παραπλησίως is a compound word made up of para meaning alongside and plesios meaning nearby.  Jesus took on the form of man and took His place alongside and nearby the human race.


And the third word is ‘partook, took part of, or shared’.  The Greek is metevscen  which is a compound meaning ‘to hold with’.  Thus Jesus took hold of human nature without its sin and held it to Himself as an additional nature, thus associating Himself with the human race.  He took to Himself, something with which by nature He had nothing in common.  Human beings possess human nature in common with one another.  The Son of God united with something that was not natural to Him.  He voluntarily united with humanity.


Jesus is God and man.  Truly man and very God, yet He was different from mankind in general in that His human nature was not permeated with the virus of sin, as is man in his present condition.  From His birth Jesus was called holy.  Thus the choice of words here preserves for us the distinct nature of Jesus as the Holy One.  His dual nature is explained.  Jesus became man.


The purpose of Jesus becoming human is that he might defeat Satan.  Satan can tempt and accuse us be he has no power in a holy life.  By dying and rising from the dead Jesus broke the power of death and satan.  Satan is not annihilated, but his power is broken.  There is no more death in Christ.  Satan reigns over the realm of death.  Where there is no death, Satan has no power.


2:15  In Christ we are free from the fear of death.


2:16  Christ did not take on the nature of angels, but the nature of mankind.


2:17  This is the conclusion of the first 2 chapters and the introduction of chapter 3.  Jesus became man also that He might become a merciful and faithful High Priest.  The priests were not known for their mercy.  They were unfeeling and cruel.  As we look ahead ‘merciful and faithful’ are discussed in reverse order.  Jesus is faithful in 3:2 and merciful in 4:16.  In contrast to the rigid, corrupt, and legalistic priests that the Jews knew in their day, Jesus came in mercy to bring this great salvation.


The priestly act of atonement and the offering for redemption was completed in Christ.  His resurrection and enthronement identified His authority to reclaim the title deed of Creation.


The description of Jesus as a “faithful high priest in the service of God” is a fulfillment of God’s word in 1 Samuel 2:35.


2:18  Jesus became man that He would be able to run to the cry of those who are being tempted and bring them aid.  He is qualified to help us because He suffered and was tempted.


The last word in this chapter means to help, succor (KJV) or come to the aid (NASB).  It is like our paramedics.  To the Greek it means to run to the cry of those in danger and bring them aid.  The tense of the verb emphasizes the fact that Jesus is now effectively able to help.  It is a fact that Jesus can meet your need today.  He comes to your aid.  He is a ‘first responder’.


Jesus suffered temptation and death because He wants to help you.  Jesus offers you a great salvation.  Jesus did not die for angels, Jesus died to save you from your self-destruction, dehumanization and hell.


His perfect humanity assures us that He understands and cares.  His deity assures us that He is ever present, qualified and able to help.  Are you listening?  Do you see Jesus?  Are you celebrating?

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